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Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their Worlds
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Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their Worlds

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  113 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Imagine a world in which words have colors and sounds have tastes. In his autobiography, Vladimir Nabokov described this neurological phenomenon, which helped inspire David Hockney's sets for the Metropolitan Opera. Richard Feynman experienced it while formulating the quantum theory that won him a Nobel Prize.

Sometimes described as a blending of perceptions, synesthesia o
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Jan 12, 2008 Ann rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful, fascinating read! Ms. Duffy has managed to take a scientific topic, dealing with neuroscience, and make it accessible (and interesting!) to non-scientific readers. When I discuss this book with friends or students (I'm a professor), suddenly people discover synesthesia within themselves or within friends/acquaintances. This is sure to become a classic in brain research...for those who are initially afraid of such a high-falutin' subject matter.
Feb 22, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
This book caught my eye because it reminded me of my roommate in college. When we were having dinner together and talking over our plans to room together the next semester, somehow we got on the subject of the color of the alphabet. While I didn't associate colors with letters at all, my friend went through the entire alphabet and told me the color of every letter. Years later, I ran across the word "synesthete" and thought "that's Betty!".

It's been on my to-read list for a while, and I'm glad i
Jul 31, 2007 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being that few books are written by synesthetes on synesthesia, it is a valuable book. The part I didn't necessarily appreciate was that the author used primarily visual senses as examples - e.g. the letter "A" always being blue, etc. This perception still is only working with one sense - sight.

My impression of true synesthesia is that 2 senses are crossed, such as sight and smell, or sound and touch. Examples of these would be a person smells a sight, or hears a texture. Personally, I experienc
Nov 13, 2007 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
This book was interesting, but I thought it dwelled too much on case studies, and individual experiences with synesthesia, rather than an exploration of how synesthetes interact with their criss-crossed senses. Still, it's a good resource (and the alphabet examples were great).
Aug 29, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it
Here is a discussion of synesthesia that insightfully compares and contrasts the perspective/world view of ones with and without the condition – and even those within it. Some passages that put it better than I ever could:

“While I’ve often felt the need to apologize and make jokes about “seeing” colored words – just to prove I’m not crazy – Carol is never self-effacing about her synesthesia but rather sees it as a great enhancement… ‘The point of synesthesia is not, “Oh, you have this weird thin
Jun 20, 2016 Karen rated it liked it
I picked up this book when I found out my daughter seeing colors associated with numbers and letters is actually a real thing! With a real name! I had just thought it was a special quirk of hers, until I thought to Google it. Then I learned it's called synesthesia. It's so fascinating to read about other peoples' experiences. My daughter doesn't think it's weird or anything, but if she ever does start to feel self-conscious about it, I can let her know the many resources out there. As well as th ...more
Mary Catelli
Jun 12, 2013 Mary Catelli rated it really liked it
Synesthesia is perceiving a sense impression when another sense is stimulated. The commonest one is perceiving letters as having colors; the test for this is to have the person write down his color and then later ask him to do it again, because ordinary people can't do it over the course of weeks, but a synesthete's last for years.

It may be that babies can't sort out sense impressions, and synesthetes just don't develop the same sorting mechanisms as the rest of us. It does tend to weaken or eve
Feb 15, 2016 Judy rated it liked it
Shelves: nf-unsorted
I wonder if Duffy has read "Born on a Blue Day" by Daniel Tammet. He's the 'autistic savant' who, among other talents, see numbers as shapes, colors and textures. And, conversely, I wonder if he has read this book.

Think of the printed page of a book. Usually black letters on white. How does the page look to a synesthete, one who sees letters in color? Pictures often show each letter a separate color. But Duffy sees the word as taking on the color of the first letter; so are the letters colored o
Oct 06, 2009 Michael rated it liked it
I am not a synesthete myself, but I find the subject fascinating. I have a coworker and a student who are synesthetes. Given that I teach fencing, which appeals to creative, intuitive types, I suspect I have a few more synesthetes amngst my students.

I enjoyed the book—especially the sections relating to the neurology of synesthesia and how people "use" their synethesia. I felt that the author's extended description of how she perceves time was repetitive, though.

I feel like I have a somewhat b
Aug 06, 2014 Carolina rated it really liked it
I initially read this book because my friend/roommate has synesthesia, and I wanted to understand it better; the book is very interesting, well-researched, and readable, and thought-provoking as well, as Duffy asks readers questions about how they perceive their world, code the information, and what they will do with their abilities, regardless of whether they have synesthesia or not.
Oct 11, 2011 Telemachus rated it it was amazing
When this book came out, Synesthesia was a scarcely known condition among the general public. Duffy explores something so fascinating here that it wasn't long before the Blue Cats would be out of the bag.
Aug 28, 2009 Jill rated it really liked it
I was involved in a scientific study on synethetes in college and the professor gave me this after I was done participating. It's really neat to read if you are synesthetic and never realized it. I didn't finish the book, but what I read was interesting.
Margy Levine Young
Nov 14, 2015 Margy Levine Young rated it liked it
An annoying book, but with some good information for us synesthetes. It’s an account of the author’s color-letter and color-number synesthesia, interspersed with scientific discoveries about the condition.
Oct 23, 2013 Martha added it
I like this book because I am intrigued by the subject. In general, I think the workings of the human mind are fascinating. This book seems to be more a brief summary or jumping off point than an actual exploration, so I will probably look up some of her sources to read more in depth.
Brooke Binkowski
Jul 22, 2008 Brooke Binkowski rated it really liked it
I am not alone! It's so good to see anecdotal and scientific validation of something I've experienced my whole life.
Ryan rated it it was ok
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